The University of Ottawa Gee-Gees will officially begin their 2014-15 pre-season this weekend, meeting their first of four NCAA opponents. First on the tall order will be the University of Indiana Hoosiers, coached by Tom Crean. uOttawa will travel to Champlain College in Montreal to take on the Hoosiers on Sunday August 10 at 3 p.m.
It is no secret that Indiana has a pedigree for preparing players for the NBA. In past years, the Hoosiers have sent big names to the NBA such as Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and most recently Noah Vonleh who went to the Charlotte Hornets with the ninth overall selection in 2014. Still, the Gee-Gees will be looking to make a statement against the Hoosiers with hopes of starting their pre-season on a high note.
After Vonleh’s departure to the NBA and the graduation of Will Sheehey who recently signed his first international contract with KK Budocnost of the Adriatic League in Podgorica, Montenegro, Indiana will be looking to come out strong this season. They will immediately look to Yogi Ferrell to lead the way even more as he was the front-man in scoring last season, averaging 17.3 points per game.
Described by many as one of the best defenders in the US, Ferrell should pose true havoc for the Gee-Gees offence and more specifically for Johnny Berhanemeskel, the Gee-Gees top point getter last season. Berhanemeskel will be heading into his final season with the garnet and grey and will be looking to enjoy the NCAA action as much as possible.
“Heading into my last season, I’m going to try to just embrace every game I have with these guys. I’ve always enjoyed the NCAA competition and how it’s a different style of basketball with its high intensity and physical play. It’s fun going up against those guys that we’ll end up watching on tv and during March Madness,” explained Berhanemeskel.
Another match-up to keep an eye on will be between 6-foot-6 uOttawa forward, Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue and Indiana’s 6-foot-7 Troy Williams. The pair posted similar stats last season as Gonthier-Dubue averaged 10.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game while Williams put up 7.3 and 4.4 for Indiana.
“The level of competitiveness is always very high when we play NCAA teams. It’s a great way to get the season started because it gives us the experience of playing against players who could be in the NBA come next season,” said Gonthier-Dubue, who also heads into his final season with uOttawa. “Regardless of the match up I get, I try to always go at it with the same mindset which is to just play my game and overall smart basketball.”
In the next two weeks, the Gee-Gees will be taking on more NCAA opponents as they will welcome the University Vermont on Monday August 11, followed by the University of Illinois-Chicago on the 13th. Two universities who lost most of their top point producers last season, leaving a question mark on what is to come when they visit Ottawa next week.
The following weekend will be most highly anticipated home game as the Memphis Tigers, who seeded 8th in the East Region bracket of the 2014 NCAA championship tournament will be in town on Sunday, August 17. Memphis has a reputation for being a top school in NCAA basketball, having the 29th highest winning percentage in NCAA history as of 2011.